About gynocentrism

Gynocentrism (n.) refers to a dominant focus on women’s needs and wants relative to men’s needs and wants in the context of gendered relationships.1   

[see here for more dictionary definitions of gynocentrism]

Introduction

Cultural gynocentrism arose in Medieval Europe during a period cross-cultural influences and momentous changes in gendered customs. Beginning in the 12th century, European society birthed an intersection of Arabic poetry elevating and venerating women, aristocratic courting trends, the Marian cult, along with the imperial patronage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and her daughter Marie De Champagne who together crafted the military notion of chivalry into a notion of servicing ladies, a practice otherwise known as ‘courtly love.’

Courtly love was enacted by minstrels, playrights and troubadours, and especially via hired romance-writers like Chrétien de Troyes and Andreas Capellanus who laid down a model of romantic fiction that is still the biggest grossing genre of literature today. That confluence of factors generated the cultural conventions that continue to drive gynocentrism today.

Gynocentrism as a cultural phenomenon

The primary elements of gynocentric culture, as we experience it today, are derived from practices originating in medieval society such as feudalism, chivalry and courtly love that continue to inform contemporary society in subtle ways. Such gynocentric patters constitute a “sexual feudalism,” as attested by female writers like Lucrezia Marinella who in 1600 AD recounted that women of lower socioeconomic classes were treated as superiors by men who acted as servants or beasts born to serve them, or by Modesta Pozzo who in 1590 wrote;

“don’t we see that men’s rightful task is to go out to work and wear themselves out trying to accumulate wealth, as though they were our factors or stewards, so that we can remain at home like the lady of the house directing their work and enjoying the profit of their labors? That, if you like, is the reason why men are naturally stronger and more robust than us — they need to be, so they can put up with the hard labor they must endure in our service.”2

The golden casket above depicting scenes of servile behaviour toward women were typical of courtly love culture of the Middle Ages. Such objects were given to women as gifts by men seeking to impress. Note the woman standing with hands on hips in a position of authority, and the man being led around by a neck halter, his hands clasped in a position of subservience.

It’s clear that much of what we today call gynocentrism was invented in the Middle Ages with the cultural practices of romantic chivalry and courtly love. In 12th century Europe, feudalism served as the basis for a new model for love in which men were to play the role of vassal to women who played the role of an idealized Lord.

C.S. Lewis, back in the middle of the 20th Century, referred to this historical revolution as “the feudalisation of love,” and stated that it has left no corner of our ethics, our imagination, or our daily life untouched. “Compared with this revolution,” states Lewis, “the Renaissance is a mere ripple on the surface of literature.”3 Lewis further states;

“Everyone has heard of courtly love, and everyone knows it appeared quite suddenly at the end of the eleventh century at Languedoc. The sentiment, of course, is love, but love of a highly specialized sort, whose characteristics may be enumerated as Humility, Courtesy, and the Religion of Love. The lover is always abject. Obedience to his lady’s lightest wish, however whimsical, and silent acquiescence in her rebukes, however unjust, are the only virtues he dares to claim. Here is a service of love closely modelled on the service which a feudal vassal owes to his lord. The lover is the lady’s ‘man’. He addresses her as midons, which etymologically represents not ‘my lady’ but ‘my lord’. The whole attitude has been rightly described as ‘a feudalisation of love’. This solemn amatory ritual is felt to be part and parcel of the courtly life.” 4

With the advent of (initially courtly) women being elevated to the position of ‘Lord’ in intimate relationships, and with this general sentiment diffusing to the masses and across much of the world today, we are justified in talking of a gynocentric cultural complex that affects, among other things, relationships between men and women. Further, unless evidence of widespread gynocentric culture can be found prior to the Middle Ages, then  gynocentrism is precisely 800 years old. In order to determine if this thesis is valid we need to look further at what we mean by “gynocentrism”.

The term gynocentrism has been in circulation since the 1800’s, with the general definition being “focused on women; concerned with only women.”5 From this definition we see that gynocentrism could refer to any female-centered practice, or to a single gynocentric act carried out by one individual. There is nothing inherently wrong with a gynocentric act (eg. celebrating Mother’s Day) , or for that matter an androcentric act (celebrating Father’s Day). However when a given act becomes instituted in the culture to the exclusion of other acts we are then dealing with a hegemonic custom — i.e. such is the relationship custom of elevating women to the position of men’s social, moral or spiritual superiors.

Author of Gynocentrism Theory Adam Kostakis has attempted to expand the definition of gynocentrism to refer to “male sacrifice for the benefit of women” and “the deference of men to women,” and he concludes; “Gynocentrism, whether it went by the name honor, nobility, chivalry, or feminism, its essence has gone unchanged. It remains a peculiarly male duty to help the women onto the lifeboats, while the men themselves face a certain and icy death.”6

While we can agree with Kostakis’ descriptions of assumed male duty, the phrase gynocentric culture more accurately carries his intention than gynocentrism alone. Thus when used alone in the context of this website gynocentrism refers to part or all of gynocentric culture, which is defined here as any culture instituting rules for gender relationships that benefit females at the expense of males across a broad range of measures.

At the base of gynocentric culture lies the practice of enforced male sacrifice for the benefit of women. If we accept this definition we must look back and ask whether male sacrifices throughout history were always made for the sake women, or alternatively for the sake of some other primary goal? For instance, when men went to die in vast numbers in wars, was it for women, or was it rather for Man, King, God and Country? If the latter we cannot then claim that this was a result of some intentional gynocentric culture, at least not in the way I have defined it here. If the sacrifice isn’t intended directly for the benefit women, even if women were occasional beneficiaries of male sacrifice, then we are not dealing with gynocentric culture.

Male utility and disposability strictly “for the benefit of women” comes in strongly only after the advent of the 12th century gender revolution in Europe – a revolution that delivered us terms like gallantry, chivalry, chivalric love, courtesy, damsels, romance and so on. From that period onward gynocentric practices grew exponentially, culminating in the demands of today’s feminist movement. In sum, gynocentrism (ie. gynocentric culture) was a patchy phenomenon at best before the middle ages, after which it became ubiquitous.

With this in mind it makes little sense to talk of gynocentric culture starting with the industrial revolution a mere 200 years ago (or 100 or even 30 yrs ago), or of it being two million years old as some would argue. We are not only fighting two million years of genetic programming; our culturally constructed problem of gender inequity is much simpler to pinpoint and to potentially reverse. All we need do is look at the circumstances under which gynocentric culture first began to flourish and attempt to reverse those circumstances. Specifically, that means rejecting the illusions of romantic love (feudalised love), along with the practices of misandry, male shaming and servitude that ultimately support it.

La Querelle des Femmes, and advocacy for women

The Querelle des Femmes translates as the “quarrel about women” and amounts to what we might today call a gender-war. The querelle had its beginning in twelfth century Europe and finds its culmination in the feminist-driven ideology of today (though some authors claim, unconvincingly, that the querelle came to an end in the 1700s).

The basic theme of the centuries-long quarrel revolved, and continues to revolve, around advocacy for the rights, power and status of women, and thus Querelle des Femmes serves as the originating title for gynocentric discourse.

To place the above events into a coherent timeline, chivalric servitude toward women was elaborated and given patronage first under the reign of Eleanor of Aquitaine (1137-1152) and instituted culturally throughout Europe over the subsequent 200 year period. After becoming thus entrenched on European soil there arose the Querelle des Femmes which refers to the advocacy culture that arose for protecting, perpetuating and increasing female power in relation to men that continues, in an unbroken tradition, in the efforts of contemporary feminism.7

Writings from the Middle Ages forward are full of testaments about men attempting to adapt to the feudalisation of love and the serving of women, along with the emotional agony, shame and sometimes physical violence they suffered in the process. Gynocentric chivalry and the associated querelle have not received much elaboration in men’s studies courses to-date, but with the emergence of new manuscripts and quality English translations it may be profitable to begin blazing this trail.8

References

1. Wright, P., What’s in a suffix? taking a closer look at the word gyno–centrism
2. Modesta Pozzo, The Worth of Women: their Nobility and Superiority to Men
3. C.S. Lewis, Friendship, chapter in The Four Loves, HarperCollins, 1960
4. C.S. Lewis, The Allegory of Love, Oxford University Press, 1936
5. Dictionary.com – Gynocentric
6. Adam Kostakis, Gynocentrism Theory – (Published online, 2011). Although Kostakis assumes gynocentrism has been around throughout recorded history, he singles out the Middle Ages for comment: “There is an enormous amount of continuity between the chivalric class code which arose in the Middle Ages and modern feminism… One could say that they are the same entity, which now exists in a more mature form – certainly, we are not dealing with two separate creatures.”
7. Joan Kelly, Early Feminist Theory and the Querelle des Femmes (1982), reprinted in Women, History and Theory, UCP (1984)
8. The New Male Studies Journal has published thoughtful articles touching on the history and influence of chivalry in the lives of males.

What is a ‘Modwife’?

*The following is an entry from the Wiki4Men series.

A Modwife (noun), refers to women who have embraced multi-option lives over more traditional roles, and who accept or encourage multi-option lives for their male partners. While containing the syllable ‘wife,’ the term applies equally to non-married women who follow or advocate the principles outlined in this article.

The term was coined in response to the popular trend in Tradwives – ie. wives who enact or advocate a traditional gender role based on Western middle-class femininity of the mid twentieth century. Both the tradwife and modwife eschew feminist prescriptions for relationships, which are geared toward female domination and not to partnerships based on reciprocal labor, value and devotion (for more about the feminist relationships model, see Gynowife). A distaste for feminism, however, is where the similarities between tradwife and modwife end.

Philosophical outlook

The unlikelihood that modern women will embrace ‘Tradwife’ roles of yesteryear with genuine commitment underpins attraction to the modwife option. Thus for best-case scenario, today’s multi-option women can invite their men to do same – to embrace multi-option lives. The modwife’s modus operandi is based on personal liberty within relationships, extending a freedom of opportunity to her partner such as society has championed for her.

Yet few multi-option women today are willing to extend that multi-option liberty to men, preferring instead to pocket the advantages extended by women’s ‘liberation’ while expecting their boyfriends and husbands to remain in the mismatched role of protector and provider. There are women however, limited in number as they are, who lean toward the model of commensurate liberty for both men and women in relationships — some of them will be recognized among the supporters of the men’s rights movement.

That libetarian spirit is usually understood as belonging to the political sphere, but it is accepted by the modwife as a guiding principle in her relationship with men. It emphasizes individual choice, relative autonomy, voluntary association, individual judgement, free will, self-determination, and free labor-sharing arrangements and agreements. In a word; freedom.

Four relationship models

Below are the four relationship models alluded to in this introductory survey:

Relationship models.

The compliment of a Modwife is a Modhusband, hence a man and woman together – Modcouple.

Meet Peter Wright

*The following is a Q & A interview by Jewel Eldora – PW

Peter Wright is an Australian researcher and writer who has published research and analysis on the history of Gynocentrism since 2007.  Wright has written booksinterviews, and academic research articles on chivalry, gynocentrism, human attachment, and cultural mythologies. In addition to being the unofficial historian of the Men’s Rights and MGTOW movements, he’s also a contributor and editor of A Voice For Men.   

In 2017, Mr. Wright agreed to publish my first series of 5 articles entitled, “There’s a Flaw in All Men, We’re Doomed and Only Women Can Save the Day”, in their entirety and unedited. 

The criticism and feedback from that community has been invaluable to my writing ever since.

OUR INTERVIEW

JE: How many years have you been writing about Gynocentrism?

PW: Around 15 years. 

JE: How many books and articles have you written, edited, published?

PW: 150 or so articles and ten books. 

JE: What was it that gave you the motivation to start writing this work?

PW: Like most men I’ve experienced various forms of anti-male bias, personally. However my interest in gynocentrism resulted more from observations of a cultural over-valuing of all things female, and the devaluing of all things male, which raised the question of which social tropes might be contributing to this mindset. 

While feminist derogation of men was an obvious provocateur, the roots of the problem seemed to go much deeper and prior to feminism. After a survey of European history it became apparent that a quixotic version of male chivalry was responsible for the evolving fetishization of women, and not the usually-cited bogeymen such as Marxism or feminism, which only compounded the trend. Having discovered cultural roots for this tendency I thought it might be helpful to document a history of sexual relations starting from the period of romantic chivalry, providing a kind of road-map for how we got here and, in theory, a road-map for how we might walk back some of the more malignant outcomes.

JE: In the nearly 5 years since my first article, you and I have had some lively, private debates.

I think we agree that men have been devalued to the point where it’s beginning to hurt women. I think that we also agree we’re witnessing an incredible mass hysteria. We have some different points of view on how we got here and what might be done about it.

I’d like to see if I can state my argument and steelman your argument.  Correct me where I’m wrong.

My General Argument (80% Nature | 20% Nurture):

I’ve posited that 50 years of propaganda, ideological class war and social movements, exploiting biases and human group and valuation has a tendency to increase stress. That stress is exploiting evolutionary biases and rendering the humanity of men invisible behind the enforcement of cross-cultural taboos. 

This has been made possible by effective Class War propaganda, State force, and benefits replacing men within the family, combined with increasing stress from social media/technology.

PW: I have found most of your arguments compelling, arguments that you previously published as a series to a large readership who were both bemused by their novelty and genuinely intrigued by their potential explanatory power. With a plethora of one-dimensional explanations on offer for the deteriorating relations between men and women, many people hunger for something more substantial – and your series provided precisely that; depth. 

You took findings from evolutionary psychology and biology and repackaged them for a mainstream consumption, and gave them your own twist. For example your work on female ingroup preference, parasite stress, and associated disgust mechanisms has helped to highlight how biological reflexes are exploited by nefarious actors who aim to stir up social panics – of which the final result is, too often, a form of male outgroup derogation. 

As you mentioned a moment ago, all of this ends up hurting women too as they find their own lives and intimate interactions with men become paranoid, stifled, and essentially poisoned.  

JE: Me Steelmanning Your General Argument (80% Nurture | 20% Nature);

As evidence you present different cultures that still value masculinity and appreciate men for their inherent strengths, complexity management and boundary maintenance attributes and skills. 

Obviously, you have an enormous body of research and work that doesn’t fit comfortably in a paragraph.

Where am I Wrong? And What Am I Missing? 

PW: That’s a fair synopsis of my position, with the only quibble being with your characterization of ‘80% Nurture | 20% Nature.’ I appreciate that your percentages here refer to a relative influence I’m ascribing to cultural signifiers (nurture), vs. the influence of unmodulated biological reflexes (nature) in the formation of our moral views about men and women today – a.k.a. the skewed gynocentric worldview of the Anglosphere.

In that scenario the 80/20 description reflects the fact that biological imperatives, as expressed by an individual, will always be subject to customs of the body politic along with being subject to punishments for transgressing social norms – even to the point where an individual can be put to death for taboo expressions of sexuality, hypergamy, unacceptable expressions of disgust and the like. In such cases we see a win for cultural conventions, and a loss for the selfish contrarian-gene impulse expressed by a given individual.

More broadly speaking, I prefer to characterize my position as 100% nature and 100% nurture – you’ll never see a human environment without biology, and you’ll never see biology without a facilitating environment, even if it’s hard to know where the center of gravity lies between the two forces. 

JE: What was the most unexpected discovery or set of discoveries you’ve made in your research?

PW: Being somewhat of a reductive biological-determinist in my former outlook, I was surprised to learn just how wildly human cultures and associated human behaviors changed from era to era, and from place to place. In one culture you can see sexual licence, in another sexual repression; or in one culture you can witness a parasitic-disgust response toward men’s grizzled beards, and in another you witness the exact opposite disgust for the smooth-skinned faces of men who don’t sport beards – beards which are seen as pure and divine features gifted by God. Such flexibility of human behavior forced me to make big adjustments in my thinking.

JE: What is the most disturbing discovery or set of discoveries you’ve made in your research?

PW: I’m in awe of how human societies display a kind of organic flow, possessing inbuilt homeostatic mechanisms that steer us in the correct direction when societies go a little bit wacky.

The disturbing thing I’ve noticed is that owners of mass media such as newspapers, radio, television, and now internet tech, can censor the organic voices calling for homeostasis.

That action takes us into a mechanistic and anti-human direction that I think is soul destroying, both for the individual and for the culture. I think some of your work touches on examples of this in action, particularly in the State of Minnesota. 

JE: My target audience are lawyers, Intellectual Dark Web types, and Unwoke Minnesotans.  What message would you like to send to them?

PW: I would encourage Minnesotans to read your work and follow you to get up to speed on the tendency of Minnesota to be a generator of global panics. The choice you offer between being woke and awake is critical. 

JE: What message would you send to your fellow Australians?

PW: Count your blessings that you live on a massive island with no border crises to suffer. 

JE: What gives you hope?

PW: What gives me hope is to remember that culture always changes.

__________________________________________________________

*Interview first published on the Jewel Eldora blog here:  

Briffault’s Law: A Classic Example Of Reductionist Categorical Thinking

This article is in response to Paul Elam and Peter Wright’s excellent recent critique[1] of Briffault’s Law. I have also critiqued Briffault’s law in my article linked here[2]. The manosphere has to have a mechanism of addressing and identifying bad ideas. Bad ideas that are not only factually incorrect, but also hold men back and negatively impact their well-being. These are ideas that must be confronted and challenged, as I have done extensively in my writings debunking the golden uterus mythology and sophistry[3]. In this article I will expand on my past critique of Briffault’s law.

Briffault’s Law is no law at all, like the medieval practice of alchemy it belongs in the bin. The research papers Paul and Peter cited (linked here[4]here[5] and here[6]) on mutual mate choice, sexual dimorphism and sexual selection, are seminal pieces of work. We may have evolved from a species with relatively high to moderate levels of sexual dimorphism many millions of years ago, but we have been on an evolutionary track over the last 500,000-1,000,000 years to evolve into a species with relatively low levels of sexual dimorphism compared to most primates and other animals.

As the evidence discussed in the papers Paul and Peter cite, we are a species where there is mutual mate choice (both sexes choose mates), competition for mates by both sexes, substantial parental investment by both sexes and widespread monogamy, long term mating and pair bonding. These characteristics have been largely the result of the requirements of our increasing brain size over evolutionary time and the longer and longer developmental period of human offspring from infancy to adulthood that has evolved over the past 500,000-1,000,000 years.

High levels of sexual dimorphism, polygyny, lack of dual parental investment, high levels of male intrasexual competition and relatively little female competition etc- modern traces of these patterns are declining artifacts of our evolution that we have been moving away from over the last 500,000-1,000,000 years. Remnants of our old evolutionary baggage are still there in our biology and behaviour, but they are a shadow of their past selves and do not hold the primacy or grip over our behaviour like they once did. New evolutionary baggage in the form of mutual mate choice, dual parental investment and competition, monogamy and long-term mating have moved into the void left behind by the decline of these old traits over the last 500,000-1,000,000 years.

Briffault’s law when applied to humans, relies on biological assumptions that we are a highly sexually dimorphic species in which only one sex competes for mates and only one sex chooses mates and that our old evolutionary baggage is still what primarily governs our behaviour in the present day. These assumptions are completely wrong and incredibly easy to disprove. Yet staunch advocates of Briffault’s law would have us believe that only men compete, only women choose and sexual selection only operates on men.

They would seriously have us ignore 500,000 to 1,000,000 years of evolution, large chunks of scientific research and evidence demonstrating mutual mate choice, dual parental investment and competition, sexual selection on both sexes (not just men), monogamy and pair bonding. They would try to convince us humans are highly sexually dimorphic and still behave like our primitive ancestors did millions of years ago, as if that was a biologically inevitable law of nature (you know the same primates that led to our cousins still living in the jungle and not walking on the moon).

The only people denying biology here are the people that are prepared to turn a blind eye to the clear evidence we are a pair bonding species, with mutual mate choice, dual parental investment, intrasexual competition and sexual selection for both sexes and relatively low levels of sexual dimorphism compared to many animals and many of our primate counterparts.

Briffault’s law is a form of what behavioural biologist Prof. Robert Sapolsky from Stanford university, in his excellent lecture series on human behaviour calls categorical thinking[7]. To a degree we have to think in categories when we analyse information to make sense of the world, but when dealing with complex biological systems this reductive thinking has its limits. When we become fixated on categories and make absolutist statements like Briffault’s law, we get trapped in categorical thinking and cannot see the forest for the trees.

Sapolsky warned in his lecture with numerous examples, the horrific consequences of such thinking throughout history. If you have not watched his lecture series, please watch it. Take it from me, it is an excellent set of lectures and also entertaining. Yes the sexes are different, but not so different that only one sex competes for mates, only one sex invests in offspring, only one sex chooses mates, only one sex faces sexual selection and only short-term mating dominates. That is fiction and not scientific fact.

In his lecture series Prof. Sapolsky quite clearly describes how we are a middle of the road species[8]. That is a species that does exhibit some level of sexual dimorphism, but that does not have the type of high sexual dimorphism like a pure tournament species does where only males compete, only women invest in offspring, only one sex chooses mates and where there is only short-term mating etc. Monogamy, dual parental investment and competition and mutual mate choice in our species, caught on so quickly precisely because it was extremely adaptive to our biology (i.e. long periods of development in our offspring demanding it).

Even in societies that are regarded as polygynous, Sapolsky states in his lecture on behavioural evolution[8], that such so-called “polygynous societies” are in reality only mildly polygynous. The majority of people in these societies are actually not polygamous at all, they are instead in monogamous long-term relationships and pair bonded. Polygyny only occurs to a limited extent in polygynous societies, sometimes for demographic reasons and other times for economic reasons as Sapolsky explains. Many of the proponents of Briffault’s law will gloss over these facts, just as they will gloss over evidence of male mate choice and the clear evidence of sexual selection pressures on females by males and female intrasexual competition for mates.

Now at this point I can almost hear the wailing about how humans are not purely monogamous either in a monogamous setting (i.e there is cheating, short term flings and serial long term relationships throughout life). That is correct, we are not absolutely monogamous. However on a scale with long term relationships, pair-bonding and monogamy on one end and short-term tournament mating and polygamy on the other end, humans are much closer to long term relationships, pair-bonding and monogamy. What we see with humans is the newer evolutionary baggage of mutual mate choice, dual parental investment, both sexes competing and monogamy etc dominating our behaviour and the older remnants of the evolutionary baggage of short-term tournament mating and polygamy playing a more minor role. That is a good thing because it has allowed civilisation to form and stopped societies from tearing themselves apart.

As the papers in the reference section below from Assoc Prof. Steve Stewart-Williams explains (cited by Paul and Peter), humans are at this point in our evolutionary journey closer to the few primate cousins who show very little or virtually no sexual dimorphism, than our cousins at the other extreme that are tournament species. We are not even intermediate in sexual dimorphism, we are somewhere between intermediate and very little sexual dimorphism in a relative sense when comparing humans to many other animals and primates. Our greatest sex differences are mainly as one would expect physical in nature, with height being one of the more obvious physical sex differences beyond basic differences in primary and secondary sex characteristics.

Many of the largest psychological sex differences as the papers from Assoc Prof. Stewart-Williams explains, are far smaller than the sex difference in height. The human sex difference in body size itself is relatively small when compared to the sex difference in body size seen in many other animals and primates. That is not to say sex differences have no significance in humans, it is just that much of the highest levels of significance of sex differences plays out more at the extremes of the distributions of traits in humans and to only a relatively minor extent in the middle. This is true to a substantial extent for physical sex differences (with a significant number of notable exceptions such as the sex difference in upper body strength) and to a very great extent for psychological sex differences.

Of greater significance is how much alike the sexes are in relation to each other overall. In many psychological traits, there is a great deal of overlap in the distributions of many traits between the sexes (see links here[9]here[10]  and here[11]) and that also has practical implications. Of course there are also exceptions to the rule, but even then as explained, the larger psychological sex differences are relatively small in comparison to physical sex differences like that observed with height. Even with physical sex differences such as the sex difference in height, there is substantial overlap and we can observe this in everyday life! This is the nuance and complexity that ideas like Briffault’s law do not account for.

Even if we made the incorrect observation that humans are a purely tournament species with high levels of sexual dimorphism and where there is strictly only high levels of male intrasexual competition, and female intrasexual competition is either absent or relatively low, it does not follow that females in such species are freely choosing their own mates and dictating the conditions of their social environment. Firstly, females just like their male counterparts, are restricted by the physical environment itself and secondly, the dominant males exercise a tremendous influence over the females in many tournament species and over the system of mating and social relations in a group. Females are hardly some omnipotent force that bend nature and the males around them to their will. Where is the Briffault’s law in common situations like that in the animal kingdom?

Whilst there are many criticisms that can be made of feminism, it is certainly true that women do have legitimate issues facing them and do face oppression and violence in certain parts of the world. Where is the Briffault’s law there? Where is the female omnipotence? This is what happens with categorical thinking, people start dismissing aspects of reality that don’t fit their dogma just like many feminist ideologues do. Staunch followers of Briffault’s law have more in common with feminist ideologues than they think!

The reality is we don’t get civilisation without paternal investment in offspring by males and monogamy. These changes ensure that society remains stable enough and there is sufficient investment by both sexes in their offspring, to foster the development of civilisation. We could not develop civilisation if we were a tournament species. This is one reason why enforced fatherlessness from feminist social engineering attacking fatherhood at an institutional level and the feminist corruption of our legal system to alienate children from their fathers, is so dangerous. You can read the statistics[12] on fatherlessness and its effects on society. It is not a pretty picture.

Once you switch to monogamy, dual parental investment and long term mating, mutual mate choice occurs and sexual selection and intrasexual competition is observed in both sexes and that is exactly what we observe in human society. The reality is that Briffault’s law assumes that males are not choosey, which is based on a deeply flawed assumption all forms of mating with females are short term flings and only involve the exchange of gametes. As mentioned earlier, the scientific evidence reported by Assoc Prof. Stewart-Williams shows this not to be the case at all in humans. Males do choose mates as well and females do compete with each other for mates just as men do.

We have whole swathes of men now distancing themselves from marriage and certain types of women, precisely because men are assessing the situation and choosing not to marry or be around certain women. That is male choice in the dating world right there. We have whole swathes of women complaining about this situation and about where all the good men went as a result. It does not take much of an observation to debunk Briffault’s law and this twisted view of women being omnipotent. Men walking away from the modern corrupt form of marriage, divorce and family court is just one example of where Briffault’s law fails, but I can cite many more examples.

In many ways Briffault’s law is the manospherian equivalent of patriarchy theory and the feminist notion men have all the power. Both are held up as an unquestioned dogma by their relevant followers and have an almost religious following that is impervious to reason and facts. Both are completely wrong. Both sexes have power and influence in this society, both sexes can and do take advantage of the other and both sexes do cooperate with each other. We need to foster greater intersexual cooperation to the fullest extent possible. If not for the sake of men’s interests or women’s interests, for the sake of our children, future generations and for a society that is becoming more and more divided by the day. We don’t go anywhere but backwards as men, as women and as a society, if we let half-baked ideas like Briffault’s law and patriarchy theory spread as some sacred cow belief system. Such beliefs blind us from seeing the bigger picture and divide us.

Yes gynocentrism is a powerful and destructive force in society, but it is not an unassailable omnipotent force like what Briffault’s law would have people believe. There are also other powerful forces as well at work in society that can and do override gynocentrism. That even applies to our Western culture which is significantly gynocentric. It is obvious just looking at society with a cursory glance, that women (even ranting and raving feminists) do not always get their way and conditions in society are not determined solely by women. Briffault’s law speaks of female omnipotence in absolutes and so does its ardent followers, just like feminists do with patriarchy theory and male privilege. This is at odds with reality and with science.

In closing, I can think of nothing more gynocentric than a belief like Briffault’s law that women control all of the conditions of social interaction and men are merely their pawns. Briffault’s law is a self-defeating belief that is not only factually incorrect, it holds men back, just as patriarchy theory does with women. It is an absolutist worldview that when followed to its logical conclusion, leads to men giving up on themselves and society, especially when it comes to their interactions with women. Any solid and healthy philosophy to assist men has to be based on the premise that men should base their beliefs on facts, not on fiction, and develop a worldview to maximise their well-being instead of fostering a mindset of learned helplessness.

Briffault’s law is a self-fulfilling prophecy that only leads to the death of the male self and eventually by extension, if it causes enough social damage to men, the death of society. There is nothing red pill about it, it is a gynocentric black pill of death.

References:

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMJYYlbHld0&t=448s
2. https://gynocentrism.com/2020/01/31/gynocentrism-sex-differences-and-the-manipulation-of-men-part-one/
3. https://gynocentrism.com/2021/01/15/the-fallacy-of-the-golden-uterus-and-the-true-origins-of-gynocentrism-part-one/
4. https://www.stevestewartwilliams.com/publications/Stewart-Williams%20&%20Thomas,%202013.pdf
5. https://www.psychologytoday.com/files/attachments/33284/stewart-williams-thomas-2013bpi.pdf
6. https://www.stevestewartwilliams.com/publications/Stewart-Williams_2020_peacocks_or_robins.pdf
7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNnIGh9g6fA&list=PL848F2368C90DDC3D
8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0Oa4Lp5fLE&list=PL848F2368C90DDC3D&index=2
9. https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-606581.pdf
10. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Gender-similarities-and-differences.-Hyde/25f3145d6f4dc126c41948b03c07502dc7b20e3a
11.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271722875_Evaluating_Gender_Similarities_and_Differences_Using_Metasynthesis
12. https://www.fatherhood.org/father-absence-statistic

Briffault: Rules for the Rational Simp

By Paul Elam & Peter Wright

Hey guys. From time to time I have the pleasure of collaborating on a piece with Peter Wright of Gynocentrism.com. Though it is written in first person, this is one of those pieces. My sincere thanks to Peter.

* * *

“The female, not the male, determines all the conditions of the animal family. Where the female can derive no benefit from association with the male, no such association takes place.”

Or so said Robert Briffault, an English surgeon, anthropologist, and novelist back in the day. And sure enough, if you listen to all corners of the manosphere, there’s no shortage of agreeance with this so-called, “Briffault’s Law.”

“Them there’s the rules,” you’ll hear, with absolute conviction and certitude, “and their ain’t nothin’ you can do about it.”

That outlook is roughly confirmed in a small poll taken by Peter Wright, offering four different interpretations of what Briffault’s Law actually means. One, that it is 100% true as written. Two, that it applies to only nonhuman animals. Three, that the law is accurate, but that it applies equally if the sexes are reversed. And four, you don’t much care about Briffault or his law to begin with.

The results were pretty clear. As you can see, 61, or 91% of those who responded see Briffault’s law, down to the last dotted i and crossed t, as 100% accurate about the female of the human species. By any measure that is an impressive amount of unanimity.

And we certainly see backup for this mentality from the more prominent MGTOW voices out there on the interwebz.

Stardusk titles a remarkably unremarkable talk, linked below, with, “Briffault’s Law – The Most Important Thing You Can Know as a Man”

Sandman opines in more personal fashion in one of his talks, linked, with the following. “I know from my own personal experience that I have two modes of operation with regards to my life,” he says, “Either I’m waiting for a woman to choose me to have a relationship, or I typically don’t care for them – like I do now.”

Finally, we have Colttaine, who expands the definition of Briffault’s Law with the same practiced acumen a feminist employs to expand the definition of rape, linked below “From where I’m sitting,” he asserts,  “the problem with Briffault’s Law is that Robert Briffault didn’t go far enough with his definition. Women don’t just determine all the conditions of the animal family, they determine ‘all the conditions’ –  period!”

Setting aside my desire to shame these public displays of learned helplessness, well, ok, partially setting aside that desire, I still want to focus on what these guys are saying and why I think it’s a learning opportunity for red pill men.

I know the online red pill community pretty well by now. And one thing is for sure, that community is above average in intelligence. Way above, in my opinion, which makes the 91% who subscribe to an obvious fiction with such religious fervour all the more perplexing.

At this point, some qualifying is necessary, though I wish it weren’t. Saying I disagree with a single prevalent MGTOW belief isn’t the same thing as disagreeing with the idea or practice of men going their own way, which I do support wholeheartedly. If you’re too obtuse to see that and appreciate the difference, this is my piss off in advance. Feel free to leave your butthurt in the comments.

That said, let’s start the conversation with a little common sense. I know, they grow ‘em big and dumb in Texas, but we do learn the difference between shit and Shinola early on in life. That predisposition, that stubborn Texas insistence to get 4 when adding 2 and 2 leads me to one inescapable conclusion about the idea of perception of benefit, a perception on which Briffault’s Law is totally reliant.

I don’t blow my nose, or even scratch it for that matter, without a perceived benefit. I don’t take a leak, put on socks, or do, literally anything you can think of, without perceived benefit. That’s true for the smallest, least significant things I do, or that I can even imagine doing. As human beings, acting on perceived benefit is pretty much all we do. By the time we’re talking about intersexual selection and pair bonding, there’s wheelbarrows full of perceived benefit on both sides. Anyone who can’t see it could perceive some benefit from eyeglasses.

And I know what some of you may be thinking. That we are socially conditioned to see the perceived benefit of the woman as what really matters. And that the weight of that social conditioning means that Briffault was right, “The female, not the male, determines all the conditions of the animal family.”

And to be fair, just pointing to the obvious fact that human behaviour, generally speaking, is driven by perceived benefit, isn’t a thorough enough rebuttal to Briffault’s widespread acceptance across the manosphere.

Before we dig into precisely the meaning of Briffault’s claims, let’s take a moment to consider Briffault the man. What do we know about him? Well, we know that he was raised by a strict, fundamentalist mother from the age of eleven after his father’s untimely death.

In short, Briffault was the product of an abusive, single-mother home. From accounts of biographers, we know that Briffault resented his mother’s controlling nature, but nevertheless went on to write about mothers at enormous length and extolling their superior status in the human scheme.

That alone is undoubtedly prima facie evidence of learned simpery, but let’s go on.

In his most famous book The Mothers, Briffault argues for the importance of mothers over and against fathers. The editor of the same book introduces him as a man without a loving bond with his mother, but with loving and fond memories of his deceased father. About Briffault from the intro, we read:

“It is not unreasonable, when a man has devoted seven years of strenuous work to arguing the importance of mothers as against fathers, to ask whether he betrayed any marked attitudes towards his own parents. Mrs Herma Briffault informs me that he had little apparent attachment to his mother, but often spoke of his father. (He seems, nevertheless, to have had a picture of his mother in his room in the last decade of his life). His mother was evidently a reserved, ‘canny’ Scots-woman, of strict views, whose capacity for personal warmth seems to have been limited, and perhaps he felt, as an infant, denied the acceptance he desired. He certainly rejected violently his mother’s strong religious beliefs and teaching. Clearly there was strong ambivalence here, and the attacks — which suggest narcoleptic stupors — which assailed him at the time of his mother’s last illness seem consistent with the idea of a powerful love-hate relationship.”

The biographer then goes on to conclude;

“It is not difficult to see how natural such attitudes were to one whose outlook had been conditioned by the experiences just described. I have observed elsewhere that, when a child has one parent who is easy-going and affectionate and another who is severe and apparently unloving, it identifies itself with the former and is preoccupied throughout life with its relationship with the latter… when it is the mother who is unloving, this leads the male child to a preoccupation with women and with incest. This was certainly the case in Briffault’s great contemporary, Havelock Ellis, for instance. It seems to have been equally true of Briffault.”

If we take this as true, the influences that led Briffault to his gynocentric conclusions, as well as his personal weakness with women, come into clear focus. Inadequate, abusive mothers and absent fathers. The results of that toxic combination are now sprawled across the cultural landscape in form of legions of young men who become obsequious lapdogs whenever in the presence of women.

It’s that instilled powerlessness that leads many, even if indirectly, to seek solutions in PUA, MGTOW and other red pill venues. And I argue that we still see the remnants of that same learned victimhood in the widespread acceptance of Briffault’s Law.

Moreover, it appears that many have taken hold of Briffault’s Law and applied it exclusively to human relationships in a way that Briffault didn’t even intend. Briffault applied his Law toward non-human animals, and the chapter in which he announces his Law is titled ‘The Herd and the Family Amongst Animals’ under this subheading ‘The Female in the Animal Group.’

The chapter is five pages long. In it he mentions tigers, elks, lions, zebras, gazelles, buffaloes, deer, monkeys, beavers, lions, birds and other animals, and only references humans briefly in order to contrast human behavioural patterns from those of animals.

Although Briffault appears to have intended his Law for animals, he also presented human sexual relations with the same exaggerated gynocentric framing, demonstrated throughout his book ‘The Mothers The Matriarchal Theory Of Social Origins’ which is chock full of cringeworthy claims of female superiority and male inferiority.

Whatever the merits of his observations, it is only fair to say that he was writing a century ago and his speculations were a product of the thinking of his day, and perhaps the personal pathology of his life. His work is replete with the flattery of and deference toward, women. It’s possible his thinking was even shaped by ideology of first wave feminism, which was running rampant in the culture during the time of Briffault’s writing.

Fast forward to contemporary research and we have a wealth of information to test, and quite frankly dismiss, Briffault’s hypotheses.

Steve Stewart-Williams, PhD in psychology and philosophy, wrote a now famous paper distilling the literature of evolutionary psychology on questions of intersexual human dynamics. Notably, he reiterates findings from the field of Evolutionary Psychology that males are also very choosy in selecting mates, which debunks the view that Briffault’s assumption concludes that only females choose. Williams states, and I quote;

“According to a common understanding of sexual selection theory, females in most species invest more than males in their offspring, and as a result, males compete for as many mates as possible, whereas females choose from among the competing males. The males-compete/females-choose model applies to many species but is misleading when applied to human beings. This is because males in our species commonly contribute to the rearing of the young, which reduces the sex difference in parental investment. Consequently, sex differences in our species are relatively modest. Rather than males competing and females choosing, humans have a system of mutual courtship: Both sexes are choosy about long-term mates, and both sexes compete for desirable mates. We call this the mutual mate choice (MMC) model.” 1

Stewart-Williams goes on to conclude that men, throughout our evolutionary history, have crafted women into the creatures we want – Pygmalion style. In other words, modern woman, in all her inglorious splendour, is, like it or not, the Stepford Wife that men actually chose to build. How’s that for patriarchal choosiness?

Pygmalion creates Galatea

He states, for example, that “human males have a number of well-documented, species-typical mate preferences. These include preferences for physical traits such as a low waist-to-hip ratio, facial and bodily symmetry, neoteny, and youthfulness. They also include preferences for psychological traits such as intelligence, emotional stability, and sexual fidelity.” 1

Imagine that – males throughout evolutionary history having a preference for intelligence and emotional stability. It’s almost as though he’s saying that men are exercising a personal choice, not only about whether to pair bond, but also about the type of woman they choose.

Not only does this bitch slap common manospherian ideas of Briffault as human gospel, it also destroys the cliché that ‘all men want is sex’ and will take anything that moves – providing the female “selects” them. It’s also worth noting that male mate preferences have left their mark on female physical morphology – again quoting Stewart-Williams:

“In some domains, women are more sexually selected than men; one… example can be found in the domain of physical attractiveness. Women are typically rated as better looking than men, by both men and women (Darwin, 1871; Feingold & Mazzella, 1998; Ford & Beach, 1951). The difference is plausibly a consequence of the fact that, although both sexes care about good looks in a mate, on average, men care somewhat more (Buss, 1989; Lippa, 2007).

This means that, since this sex difference first evolved, there has been a somewhat stronger selection pressure on women than men for physical attractiveness—the opposite of what we find in peacocks. To take a more specific example, the fact that adult human females have permanently enlarged breasts is plausibly a consequence of male choice. Contrary to popular opinion, enlarged mammary glands appear not to be necessary for milk delivery. The vast majority of mammals deliver milk without them, and there is little correlation between the size of a woman’s breasts and her capacity to produce milk (Miller, 2000). What, then, are breasts for? A rather obvious clue can be found in the fact that most men find youthful-looking breasts sexually attractive. This has led to the suggestion that the primary evolutionary function of breasts relates to mate choice (Dixson, Grimshaw, Linklater, & Dixson, 2011).

The most widely accepted suggestion is that they are honest signals of good genes, youthfulness, and nutritional status (Jasienska, Ziomkiewicz, Ellison, Lipson, & Thune, 2004; Marlowe, 1998; Singh, 1995; for an alternative hypothesis, see Low, Alexander, & Noonan, 1987). If so, women’s breasts tell us something important about ourselves, namely, that we are not the kind of species in which males only ever pursue sex indiscriminately and females alone exert mate choice. Breasts are evidence of male mate choice operating over many thousands of generations (Cant, 1981). The same is true of other secondary sexual features found in human females, including facial neoteny (e.g., large eyes, small noses and chins); gluteofemoral fat deposits and the hourglass figure; and lighter, smoother, less hairy skin.” 1

“Of course,” Stewart-Williams concludes, “no one is surprised that men have mate preferences; it is such a familiar fact of life that we take it for granted. From a comparative perspective, though, we should be surprised. The existence of these preferences makes our species atypical among mammals and is inconsistent with the idea that we are an MCFC species.” 1

Considering these widely available scientific facts, we must wonder if men upholding Briffault’s Law are simply brainwashed by the prevailing gynocentric narratives, or whether they too suffer from “male mother need” as Briffault himself did? When, for example, Turd-Flinging Monkey dismisses all women as THOTS but then goes on to talk for a decade about said thots stealing men’s authority, is that not akin to Briffault’s obsession with female self-interest?

Who knows? Perhaps an examination of TFMs relationship with his mother would be revealing.

For me, the red pill is, in its purist form, a dedication to living in the truth. It’s red pill 101 that women should not be viewed as an omnipotent power in the lives of men. That, dear listeners, is one of the very first liberating truths of men’s red pill existence. That women largely have only the power we give them, and that we have the power to keep them in check. In the earlier days of red pill, we called it veto power, the ultimate trump card for men. And we still have that power in spades unless we insist on immersing ourselves in the victim narrative.

So how then, do we have red pill commentators proclaiming aloud, and I quote again, “Either I’m waiting for a woman to choose me to have a relationship, or I typically don’t care for them – like I do now”?

Word for word, that could have been uttered by any defeated blue pill simp you’ve ever met in your life. Get mad if you want to, you know it’s true.

And to be clear, I am not saying a thing in contempt of men who look at all the facts and choose to avoid women based on the risk, effort, expense and unfairness that often comes with the so-called fairer sex.

Indeed, I think it’s important to point out that we’re talking largely about two distinct groups of men. There are those who have stared reality directly in the face, weighed all the facts and dispassionately concluded that women are not worth the effort; that the juice isn’t worth the squeeze, as it were, and veto power is at the core of their very identity. If you’re in that group, this talk is for you, but it isn’t really

The other group are men who have looked at the challenges of attracting and pair bonding with women and decided that they are just not up to the job. These are generally men whose spine has never survived contact with a woman. Their frame cracks, splits and ultimately shatters at the hint of female influence. You can hear it in their endless droning about how a man can never win, how women make all the rules and that the rules are unfair. They make sweeping declarations of personal powerlessness. To wit, “Women don’t just determine all the conditions of the animal family, they determine ‘all the conditions’ – period!”

Men like this appear incapable governing their own lives if women are involved. They can’t choose mates, not because women have unbridled personal power, but because those men don’t have the personal strength, values and integrity to remain in control of their lives.

They are just men who can’t hold on to their interests, their friends, their values, or self-respect because women make all the rules and they have no choice but to follow them. Because that’s the way things are, and Briffault’s Law is the so-called truth they wallow in to prove it.

If that’s your idea of red pill, you might want to skip the refills.

Whatever the motivations, I can safely say that a blind belief in Briffault’s Law is relegating many men’s personal progress to the dumpster, because if men have no choice about the conditions of their life, what possible agency can they have?

What form of personal autonomy is it that you can’t practice in the presence of a female? What kind of poorly constructed frame won’t bear the weight of a woman’s whims? Ya know, if you have to hide from anyone to assert your, uh hum, agency in life, you might hear Inigo Montoya, whispering in your ear, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

Personally, I’d rather try to pull an AR15 out of Kyle Rittenhouse’s hands than surrender to this weak bullshit.

Finally, I’d like to propose a different set of axioms for red pilled men: First, as a human male you are the most magnificent living entity ever known to exist. Men built civilization and conquered all manner of frontiers. If I were to try to list all the accomplishments of men, you’d grow old before I got finished.

Whatever your decisions about allowing women into your life, seeing yourself as a loser who can’t win is a self-fulfilling prophesy, with all the lameness that implies. If you want sex, companionship or even a relationship based on red pill principles, don’t let some youtuber’s mommy issues hold you back. Don’t lock yourself into the black pill prison of learned helplessness and nihilistic defeatism. Well, unless that is what you want to do. If that’s the case, just make sure that when you’re staring into that black, optionless void, you know it’s just a mirror of your own making.

Meanwhile, red pill men will enjoy the byproduct of personal agency, accountability and practiced wisdom; a solid frame that doesn’t crumble when a woman enters the room. A frame that doesn’t crumble for anyone.

References:

Stardusk
Briffault’s Law: The Most Important Thing You Can Know As A Man https://youtu.be/9W6wvHSMmzY

Sandman (2:32)
Briffault’s Law: Women choose men. Men can’t choose women.
https://youtu.be/n0gjEDzx2vk

Colttaine (17:51)
Briffault’s Law doesn’t go far enough.
https://www.bitchute.com/video/Pqz5tB4hnOln/

Robert Briffault
The Mothers: the Matriarchal Theory of Social Origins. https://tinyurl.com/4a5fyj9s

Steve Stewart-Williams
1. The Ape That Thought It Was a Peacock https://tinyurl.com/yjefu9jf
2. The Ape That Kicked The Hornet’s Nest https://tinyurl.com/mcr4w8m4
3. Are Humans Peacocks Or Robins? https://tinyurl.com/5awybxrf

Kanamara Matsuri

The following article was first published at A Voice for Men in September 2012

A giant 8 foot penis is joyfully carried through a crowded Japanese street by a dozen happy teenage girls. No, this is not a scenario from an odd mix of a pervy Macy’s Parade flotilla and the supple nymphs in “Bilitis.” It’s real and the annual event is called the “Kanamara Matsuri.”

The Kanamara Matsuri, which translates to “Big Iron Penis Lord,” is celebrated during the first week of April in Kawasaki, Japan and it has been around since the 1600’s. Interestingly, such phallic processions were once very widespread, but it appears Japan is one of the few remaining places daring to place a penis at the center of a public celebration. Almost everywhere else the penis is today seen as a dreaded object of violence and oppression, a thing in need of castration, sterilization, circumcision and, most importantly, suppression from view.

If we go back to Ancient Greece, Rome, India, Egypt -in fact anywhere at all- we find adoration of the penis (and vagina) a comfortable norm. To give but one example, so welcome was the penis that Ancient Egyptians had no mother earth but instead a ‘father earth’ named Geb, a nurturing god portrayed reclining on his back with a huge erect penis. His was a benevolent phallus that brought fertility to the land, nourished its people, and bestowed prosperity and harmony to the world.  

In Ancient Rome we have examples of phallic charms called fascinum, which were often winged, and were ubiquitous in the culture from jewellery to bells and wind chimes to lamps. The fascinus was thought particularly to ward off evil from children, mainly boys. Pliny notes the custom of hanging a phallic charm on a baby’s neck, and examples have been found of phallus-bearing rings too small to be worn except by children. [1] It’s not important here to delve into the entire history of phallic representations, but what is important is to know that there once was a time when the penis did not equal oppression. Why is it important to know this?

When we stop to remember a time before the scorched earth policy of feminism emolliated our respect for the male form, we thereby ‘re-member’ ourselves and how we once were. Once we remind ourselves of this we are inspired, even angered, to drop our chocolates and flowers and  pick up a blade and hack and thrash our way through a great tangle of confusion and doubt to our way back home- to the penis as symbol of beauty of form and masculine identity.

The penis as symbol of beauty of form has only recently been quashed as a concept and is never really discussed in our gynocentric universe. In fact, it is disparaged. I think it is time to change this, but first we must see through the feminist inspired bad press about the phallus.

Feminists have characterized the penis as an object of violence, oppression and viral dirt. To them it is synonymous with a deadly snake. But not to be satisfied with their maligning of the male body feminists have gone further by claiming that all of society is suffering from a toxic “phallocentrism,” which is defined as, “a doctrine or belief centered on the phallus, especially a belief in the superiority of the male sex.”[2] Phallocentrism is further defined as “any perspective usually considered characteristic of patriarchal systems.”[3]

But does such a dreaded symbol actually exist today, and if so where? It appears feminists have not stopped to notice that the actual phallus of phallocentrism has suffered a universal repression within the very culture claimed to be dominated by the penis. Therefore the hatchet job they continue to do on our penises, both metaphorically and literally, might better be redirected to their deadwood ideology before another generation of boys is alienated from this essential feature of male identity.

The time has come to drop our complicity with anti-male narratives and learn again to love the male form. We need no longer view the penis through the gynocentric lens of (a) only gay men talk about the beauty of the penis, albeit as an emblem of homosexuality, or (b) straight men view the penis as an instrument of action packed machismo- the façade of “tough.” Take for example our usual heterosexual talk about genitalia; prick, balls, nuts, dong, boner, cock, tool, weapon, suck, blow, wank, shoot; and gash, snatch, twat, hole, cunt, bush, clit. James Hillman invites us to compare this kind of language “with the marvelous language of foreign erotica: jade stalk, palace gates, ambrosia… A Chinese plum is to be deliciously enjoyed; our cherries are to be taken, popped, or broken. [4]

Clearly we Western males have internalised feminist characterizations of the male member by continuing with this derogatory language of penis = violent = male.

“Suppose instead we were to call him, as he once was named, Jolly Roger or Little Johnny Jump-up, or Happy Prince, smiling wand, black magic, little brother, or Purusha who is smaller-than-small and bigger-than-big.”[4] There is no need to impose images of violence on the penis.

We might even begin to think of him as man’s best friend- a precious facet of my body and dignified symbol of my masculinity.

Imagine if we transformed our cultural obsession with penis porn into penis art, crafting representations in plastic form to be put on display like those bare breasted, pregnant and vulvad’ female sculptures that dot our landscapes and galleries. By ditching the false dichotomy of beautiful-gay-penis versus machismo-straight-penis we might begin to relate to the penis as a representation of male identity, no longer divided into gay and straight only, but reborn as a complex symbol of men’s multifaceted natures. Imagine, the phallus standing as a dignified symbol of our masculinity, much like the breasts and pregnant bellies benefit women everywhere as symbols of pride and identity.

References:

[1] Martin Henig, Religion in Roman Britain (London: BT Batsford LTD, 1984), pp. 185–186
[2] ‘Phallocentrism’ at Dictionary.com  http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/phallocentrism
[3] ‘Phallocentrism’ at About.com http://atheism.about.com/library/glossary/aesthetics/bldef_phallocentrism.htm
[4] Thomas Moore (Ed.) ‘The Essential James Hillman: A Blue Fire’, Routledge 1990.  p. 179

How Thomas Oaster started International Men’s Day – and how feminists tried to stop him

The following is a republished 2016 article from A Voice for Men showing how International Men’s Day was first started by a Men’s Rights Activist (MRA) named Thomas Oaster.
_____________________

This article is about how one gutsy MRA started International Men’s Day despite attempts to shut him down. His name was Thomas Oaster.

Thomas Oaster was an articulate and passionate men’s rights advocate. He was prolific in his work with men’s groups, men’s issues, and political advocacy both on and off campus where he taught. He had many fine MRAs around him, men and women who helped to improve the lot of males, but what of the man himself?  Who was he really, and what is the unknown story of how he inaugurated the first International Men’s Day?  The following will be about Thomas Oaster and how he put IMD on the map for all who choose to celebrate the event into the distant future.

In the early 1990’s Oaster’s growing interest in advocating for men (and gynocentric resistance to that advocacy) led him to the idea of creating a globally celebrated International Men’s Day. His goal was to create a platform where the stories of men could be told in their own words rather than being interpreted by others.

In a moment of nostalgia about this dream he mused:

“You don’t get points in men’s groups for flexing your ego, but I’d like it to be known that Kansas City has become the hometown of International Men’s Day because a hometown boy got that thing rolling.”[1]

As you will read in what follows Thomas Oaster, and Kansas City, can indeed now take credit for being the epicenter of a global movement.

The first IMD event took place in 1992 when small groups of MRAs scattered through 4 continents simultaneously celebrated with Oaster in the first celebration. Today, thanks to his vision, there are millions of people in more than 60 countries celebrating IMD. This achievement is remarkable when we consider it took place 30 years ago at a time when advocacy for men and boys was considered unthinkable.

Thomas Oaster was the Director of the Missouri Center for Men’s Studies and employed as Associate Professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City where he taught classes on men’s issues. That’s right, classes on real men’s issues. He told of how he first became attracted to the men’s movement by an intellectual interest, but quickly came to feel persecuted for his association with this politically incorrect subject. “I got beat up, slammed” reports Oaster, “People said, ‘What – do you hate women?’ The more I got beat up, the more I got drawn in. My Teutonic background took over.” [1].

During February 1991, Oaster wondered if a global recognition of men and their issues might be framed as a men’s strike day, a kind of protest against misandry, which could be observed under the moniker ‘Men’s Day Off.’ He later softened his approach, re-framing the proposed event as an educational exchange on men’s issues, thus was born the idea of International Men’s Day.

The first IMD event was organized and launched by Oaster on February 7, 1992 for the purpose of what he said was “drawing positive attention to important [men’s] issues.” [2] The event was successful both in 1992 and again in 1993 and 1994.[3] People in four continents celebrated and guests at the various events came along to hear speakers talk on topics ranging from the “silent tragedy of men’s health” to “man bashing” and to share, talk, wine and dine.

It was a miraculous occasion. For the first time in history people gathered at the same time on four continents to actually speak of such things. On that day, February 7, men and women rejoiced in the company of like-minded souls as they shared intimate stories that ears had never before heard. Oaster spoke at his hometown Kansas event, reminding attendees that discussion of men’s health and wellbeing deserved to be heard though the cacophony of misandry;

“We want the bashing to stop. It’s not a request. It’s a statement. We want it to stop! To give you an example, a woman walked through here and saw the material and said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding. You’re not seriously going to have a men’s day, are you?’”[4]

Oaster hoped that the day could become a means of education and consciousness raising where the positive cultural accomplishments of men could be celebrated and men might be faced with a better variety of choices about how they wanted to live their lives;

“Women and men should both have options” wrote Oaster, and “International Men’s Day is an opportunity to draw attention to the issue of options.”[5]

Oaster proposed six core objectives for a men’s day, and they were to: celebrate men’s positive traits and contributions, improve gender relations, focus attention on men’s health and wellbeing, remove misandry, increase life options for men and boys, and to develop a humanitarian-style approach to all men’s issues. These six objectives were the foundations that would later be reaffirmed and ratified by a new generation of IMD celebrants, but not before a group of ‘anti-Oaster’ University women had played their final hand.

After the popular success of the first International Men’s Day event in 1992, feminists at his campus became increasingly vindictive.  During his planning for the 1994 and 1995 IMD events, a bomb was suddenly dropped by at least 6 former and current female ‘graduate students’ who collectively complained that Oaster had sexually harassed them and was “hostile” in the classroom. The two most serious allegations put forward by the troupe were that Thomas Oaster had touched the forearm of one student with what she perceived was a “brief stroking motion”, and that he had advised another student to dye her hair blonde in response to her question about what she could do improve her poor grade. To drive the nail deeper another student said he had referred to her as “Blondie” at least twice. The curators at the university entertained these shallow and dubious allegations and were quick to respond by imposing restrictions on Oaster’s movements and work. [6]

Despite these distractions the next two IMD events went extremely well with several hundred individuals in attendance. However the fourth year of IMD heralded a change in the weather when his antagonists decided to double-down in their efforts to shut him down.

In 1995 Oaster had planned to orchestrate his fourth and biggest IMD event when he increasingly became the target of workplace bullying. He decided to sue the Curators of the University for Infringement of his civil rights as a tenured professor, claiming that he was being denied freedom of speech, salary increases, graduate teaching assistants and the use of university facilities.[6] Naturally the court proceedings took up much of his time and energy and this taxed his ability to effectively organize or advertise the upcoming IMD event.

Due to these circumstances the next IMD event was a flop with few people turning up. After this failure, and feeling drained by a complex court case, Oaster decided to defer future IMD plans and take a well-deserved rest.

With precision, Thomas Oaster had been persecuted for his role in the men’s rights movement. [6] Late in 1995 Oaster won his court case against the UMKC and the University was forced to pay him $74,000 plus $15,000 for legal fees. After settlement Oaster resigned from his job as he felt he would no longer have the respect of his students, and he shelved plans to continue celebrating IMD. [6]

General interest in the event waned until 1999 when Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh, a History Professor at the University of the West Indies revived the event and shifted the date to November 19 – the date of his father’s birthday.

Jerome Teelucksingh continued Oaster’s emphasis on highlighting positive aspects and accomplishments of men. In a 2009 interview Teelucksingh also gave a nod to the work of Oaster when he stated this;

“I could be considered the founder of this version of IMD on 19 November but we need to also acknowledge the pioneering efforts of persons and groups before 1999… They are the ones to be honoured.” [3]

In 2009 an international IMD committee was formed with Jerome Teelucksingh as chairman. The group came together to increase awareness about the event and to foster its growth into more nations.

Taking note of the foundational IMD objectives introduced by both Oaster and Teelucksingh, the committee encapsulated the objectives of International Men’s Day in six guiding principles that would serve to protect the core values of the day and offer a reliable reference point for future IMD celebrants.[3] The ‘Six Pillars,’ which are suitably loose and open to interpretation, are now used as a guide by IMD celebrants around the world:

  • To promote positive male role models; not just movie stars and sports men but everyday, working class men who are living decent, honest lives.
  • To celebrate men’s positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, child care, and to the environment.
  • To focus on men’s health and wellbeing; social, emotional, physical and spiritual.
  • To highlight discrimination against males; in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations, and law.
  • To improve gender relations and promote gender equality.
  • To create a safer, better world; where people can live free from harm and grow to reach their full potential

It’s my belief that the spirit of Oaster’s original vision and that of A Voice for Men have much in common.  Both movements aim to create an inclusive international voice for men as free as possible from sectarian distractions. Moreover, both IMD and AVfM reject the notion of a unified men’s movement, encouraging instead a diversity of men’s voices on a variety of humanitarian issues:

Thomas Oaster said this:

[T]here is no such thing as a unified men’s movement, the phenomena involved comprise a variety of sub-movements, even after analogies to other issues concerning which there are far left, far right, and middle-of-the-road orientations, there is yet another more fundamental point which can be made about the value of respect for all men as human beings. A day of respect should go beyond the current social activities referred to as Men’s movements. This is true because the men’s movement itself goes beyond the Men’s movements. The men’s movement, more fundamentally, is a turning of the human psyche and the articulation of this turning through the male voice.[5]

Paul Elam, founder of avoiceformen.com said:

[C]ontinuing to buy into the false unity of a non-existent entity will only slow us down. I have always taken care, and still do, to point out that AVfM is not synonymous with the men’s movement. And after mulling this over one more time of thousands, I am really glad that I have taken this approach. I don’t know what the men’s movement is, in all honesty. I don’t even know that it exists.[7]

While the similarities in the two movements are obvious, there are some important differences. For instance in Thomas Oaster’s day there was no internet, whereas today it is a vital medium for all activism, including here at AVfM. Another difference is that IMD focuses the year-long work of activists into one big day of publicity, whereas other activists strive to make ‘every day’ a men’s day via regular online publicity.

. . .

International Men’s Day is a grassroots movement with no official management. It does not belong to any government nor is it owned by the United Nations or any of its agencies. We might say that nobody owns the event, or better yet everybody owns it. Any person can self-nominate as an IMD coordinator for a specific region or event and, if desired can form alliances with an international network of individuals working to promote the day. Any current and future coordinators are merely hitch-hikers catching a ride on an international platform that nobody owns.

Nobody needs to gain permission to mark the day. All one need do is be mindful of the spirit of the occasion as laid out in the six pillars which ask us to remain true to the lives of men and boys without allowing that message to be diminished by negative or irrelevant concerns.

In recent years IMD has spread into new regions and attracted some mainstream attention. With this new attention it is perhaps time to remind newcomers that the originators of the event were fighting for liberty and freedom, and that we still have a very long way to go on this front.

With this in mind let us finish with words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, itself delivered on November 19- the date of International Men’s Day. The words of his address speak equally to the purpose of International Men’s Day today and of the great sacrifices made by Oaster and other men and women who fought on the battlefield of cultural misandry;

‘Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure… The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated [the ground], far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.’ [Lincoln]

Despite the resistance, the tradition of IMD lives on. In Oaster’s name let’s dream it forward.

Sources:

[1] George Gurley, ‘Finally, men get their day’ (Kansas City Star: Feb 6, 1993)

[2] Fred Wickman, ‘about Town’ (Kansas City Star: Jan 27, 1992)

[3] Jason Thompson, ‘International Men’s Day; the making of a movement’ (Soul Books, 2010)

[4] James Fussell, ‘Men have their say at weekend forum’ (Kansas City Star: Feb 6, 1993)

[5] Thomas Oaster, ‘International Men’s Day: RSVP’ (Cummings and Hathaway, 1992)

[6] Cheryl Thompson, ‘Complaints surface about UMKC professor’ (Kansas City Star: Mar 10, 2003)

[7] Paul Elam, ‘Adios, c-ya, good-bye man-o-sphere’ (A Voice for Men. retrieved October 2012)

International Women’s Day: promoting gender war

Editor’s note: This article is also available in Portuguese and Romanian.

International Men’s and Women’s days involve numerous objectives, with both days highlighting issues considered unique to men or women. The following highlights two central narratives of IWD and IMD respectively; women’s supposed fight against oppression, and men’s attempts to promote positive recognition of men and boys in a misandric society.

Several popular myths concerning the origins of International Women’s Day exist, and after a survey of the literature it seems the variety of accounts have created confusion for commentators. For example, a widely bruited falsehood about IWD which surfaced in French Communist circles claimed women from clothing and textile factories had staged a protest on 8 March 1857 in New York City. This story alleged that garment workers protested against very poor working conditions and low wages and were attacked and dispersed by police. It was claimed that this event led to a rally in commemoration of its fiftieth anniversary (in 1907), with this commemorative gathering constituting the very first IWD. In response to these legendary claims Temma Kaplan explains that “Neither event seems to have taken place, but many Europeans think March 8, 1907 inaugurated International Women’s Day.”1

This fantasy of origins clearly attempts to position International Woman’s Day in a narrative of woman-as-victim, but it goes further. Speculating about the origins of the 1857 legend Liliane Kandel and Françoise Picq suggested it was likely that some felt it opportune to detach International Women’s Day from its true basis in Soviet history and ascribe to it a more ‘international’ origin which could be painted as more ancient than Bolshevism and more spontaneous than a decision of Congress or the initiative of those women affiliated to The Party.2

Whilst numerous apocryphal stories of this nature exist, we can safely say that International Women’s Day was first initiated by German socialist Clara Zetkin in 1910 as a way to promote socialist political objectives and was always referred to by the political name ‘International Working Women’s Day’. Observation of the event was primarily restricted to the Soviet bloc. It wasn’t until the 1970s when women outside of the Soviet bloc looked to celebrating the event that the word ‘working’ was increasingly omitted along with much of it’s socialist meaning.

Beginning in the 1970’s IWD became subject to a feminist revision. Whereas IWWD was previously used to highlight working women’s oppression by a bourgeois and powerful upper class of both men and women, 1970s feminists revisioned the basis of the day by stating that it was now men alone, as a class of “chauvinists,” who wielded all power over all women who had each become victims of men’s domination. It was men’s oppressive rule which IWD must now focus on overthrowing.

A decisive moment of the feminist revision came from the United Nations which officially endorsed and promoted the event from the late 1970s. Along with this endorsement the UN worked very hard to get rid of IWDs socialist traits, a move which was not accepted by many socialist women’s groups. For instance, in 1980 in Sweden, the socialist women’s ‘Grupp 8’ rejected working with other women’s organizations to promote IWD because it wanted to maintain the socialist origins and aims of the event: “We have now conducted a number of discussions within our organization and come to the conclusion that, as representatives of the socialist women’s movement, we cannot take part in a joint-party March 8 demonstration. After all, from the historical perspective, March 8 is the ‘International Socialist Working Women’s Day’ and our organization feels that this should absolutely remain the case. Changing this would be like changing May 1. For this reason we are unable to endorse the UNs appeal.”3 The revisioned event was seen by many as a betrayal of both it’s history and fundamental goals.

A popular slogan circulated on International Women’s Day, appearing
on posters, pin-buttons, T-shirts, bumper stickers, and in print media.

With this new ideological turn women were no longer viewed as part of the privileged upper class, and those former oppressors of women- i.e. capitalism; traditional gender schemas imposed by powerful men and women; various laws, language and so on- were reduced to one all-encompassing enemy: males and their patriarchal belief system. The new ideological basis for IWD was elaborated in the late 1970s-80s under the label “patriarchy theory”4 and it’s arrival correlated with a sharp increase in the numbers of women observing IWD,5 an interest generated by heightened concerns or fears over ‘patriarchal oppression’ of women.

It’s true that women have sought to dismantle restrictive gender stereotypes, but IWD appears more concerned with perpetuating those gender stereotypes rather than dismantling them. In light of the oversimplified explanations proposed by feminist ‘patriarchy theory’6 one hopes that whatever issues remain for women that they be explored in more sophisticated and nuanced ways to give International Women’s Day a more credible platform for promoting gender equality and improving gender relations.

International Men’s Day, as conceived by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh in 1999, has a completely different ideological basis to both the early and later phases of International Women’s Day. Although the objectives of IMD occasionally intersect with those of IWD, such as advocating equality between the sexes, it is primarily concerned with celebrating positive portrayals of men and other issues unique to men’s and boys experiences. This approach is deemed necessary in a social context which is often fascinated with images of males behaving badly, eg. media portrayals of males as stupid, emotionless, greedy, violent, dangerous, power-hungry, selfish, irresponsible and so on. Such negative male stereotypes are frequently promoted in an attempt to shame males into behaving more positively, ignoring the fact that the negative behaviours do not apply to the vast majority of men and boys, or that such negativity may detrimentally impact the self-image and self-esteem of boys, which in turn impacts their willingness to engage in intimate relationships and in communities. In highlighting positive images of men IMD attempts to show that males of all ages respond more energetically to positive portrayals than they do to negative stereotyping.

In summary, International Women’s Day started as a day for women to promote socialist objectives, especially for proletarian women to fight against oppression by the powerful upper classes comprised of men and women both. In the 1970’s it became a new movement claiming that men alone oppressed women, and that IWD will be used as a vehicle to highlight, primarily, the results of an assumed gender war. Said differently the focus of IWD shifted from a class war, to a gender war.

International Men’s Day is not based on the assumption of a gender war. IMD is primarily about celebrating positive images of men as an alternative to negative male stereotyping, the aim being to inspire a new generation of men and boys to develop self-worth and a desire to participate in a society that will (hopefully) one day be free from misandry.

References:

[1] Temma Kaplan, On the Socialist Origins of International Women’s Day, in: Feminist Studies, 11, 1985, S. 163-171.
[2] Liliane Kandel / Françoise Picq, Le Mythe des origines à propos de la journée internationale des femmes, in: La Revue d’en face, 12, 1982, S. 67-80.
[3] Silke Neunsinger, Worlds Of Women; International Material in the Collections of ARAB, p23 – letter by Grupp 8, Stockholm, 1981
[4] Lindsey German, Theories of Patriarchy in International Socialism second series no 12. 1981.
[5] 1900-2010: Increased interest in IWD correlates with the emergence of ‘patriarchy theory’.

[6] Sandra Bloodworth, The Poverty of Patriarchy Theory Originally published in
Socialist Review (Australian), Issue 2, Winter 1990, pp. 5-33. (DOC)

Courtly Love

By Michael Delahoyde

Introduction:

We are so familiar with the love tradition that we mistake it for a natural and universal phenomenon and have no impulse to inquire into its origins. But it is difficult if not impossible to show love to be anything more than an artistic phenomenon or construct — a literary or performative innovation of the Middle Ages.

The term “Courtly Love” (“l’amour courtois”) was coined by Gaston Paris in 1883 (in the journal Romania), so the first problem is that we tend to let the Victorians define it for us. The terms that appear in the actual medieval period are “Amour Honestus” (Honest Love) and “Fin Amor” (Refined Love).

The concept was new in the Middle Ages. The medievals were the first to discover (or invent) it, the first to express this form of romantic passion. There was no literary nor social framework for it in the Christian world before the end of the 11th century; the Western tradition had no room for the expression of love in literature: there’s none in Beowulf or The Song of Roland.

The religious tradition speaks of love, but that’s agape — platonic/christian love of all humankind as your brothers and sisters. In classical literature we witness what’s called love, but, as exemplified well by the case of Dido for Aeneas, the passion is often described in firy terms and always reads like eros — hot lust. (Medea and Phaedra are other cautionary examples, and “love” plunges them into crime and disgrace.) Ovid’s Ars Armitoria and Remedia Amoris (The Art of Love and The Cure for Love) are ironic and didactic treatises generated from a premise that love is a minor peccadillo. Ovid gives rules for illicit conduct.

Rather unlike “Courtly Love,” the literature of the Church is anti-feminist. And the tastemakers in feudal society marry not for love but for real estate and heirs. It’s been said that in the Middle Ages you married a fief and got a wife thrown in with the bargain. Idealized “love” goes against the utilitarian economics of marriage, and passion was forbidden by the Church, so until the courtly version came along, Love was duty and “Luv” was sinful. Thus, “Courtly Love” emerged and remained outside of marriage. (Love and marriage don’t go together like a horse and carriage.) C.S. Lewis decided that its key features were humility, courtesy, and adultery.

Historical Basis?:

Scholars who have believed that Courtly Love was a true historical development rely on the literature to read back a history. They have decided that it all began in southern France, which was sufficiently peaceful and isolated for such a movement to develop. Old Roman war dogs retired here (Avignon; Toulouse; Nimes under the domaine of Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine) and the leisure class, a wealthy and self-sufficient society, found a new fad. (After all, you can’t love if you’re poor — check your Andreas Capellanus.) Intellectuals from all over were attracted to the area’s courts. The south was freer and more tolerant, and was pluralistic (with Arabs, Jews, and Byzantines numbered among the residents). And perhaps the men outnumbered the women (check Rules 3 and 31 in Andreas).

Troubadours:

What we find are troubadour poems. The troubadours were not really wandering minstrels but mostly rich young men, using the Provençal langue d’Oc. Circa 1071 is the birth year for the first known troubadour, William IX of Poitiers. [In the north, feudal knights preferred epic poems of chivalry like the Arthurian tales crossing the channel. But trouvères picked up the troubadour tradition, transposed into the langue d’Oil. In Germany they were called minnesingers.]

Consider Arnaut Daniel’s “Chanson do.ill mot son plan e prim” (“A Song with Simple Words and Fine”) and Bernard de Ventadour’s “Can vei la lauzeta mover” (“When I See the Lark Moving”). Guillaume de Machaut comes later, in the fourteenth century, but is a key big name in love songs: “Amours me fait desirer” (“Love Fills Me with Desire”), “Se ma dame m’a guerpy” (“If My Lady Has Left Me”), “Se je souspir” (“If I Sigh”), “Douce dame jolie” (“Fair and Gentle Lady”), etc.

The formes fixes of the poetry included:

Ballade: a a b (or, if a = ab, then ab ab c)

Virelai: A b b a A b b a A

Rondeau: A B a A a b A B

In other words, there were learned combinations of rhymes, stanzas, and concepts. Some of the music survives but we’ve lost the form of the rhythms.

The Courtly Love sung of in the songs represents a new structure, not that of the Church or of feudalism, but an overturning of both. Love is now a cult — a sort of religion but outside of normal religion — and a code — outside of feudalism but similarly hierarchical. The language and the relationships are similar (and the language, sometimes borrowed from religion, ends up borrowed back by religion in certain lyrics). In feudalism the vassal is the “man” of his sovereign lord; in courtly love, the vassal is the “man” of his sovereign mistress. In religion, the sinner is penitent and asks that Mary intercede on his behalf with Christ, who is Love. In courtly love, the sinner (against the laws of love) asks the mother of the love god, Cupid’s mother Venus, to intercede on his behalf with Cupid or Eros, who is the god of love. So this new love religion seems to parody real religion.

The Procedure:

That’s the static phenomenon interpreted. But the process of courtly love, a long-standing relationship with standardized procedures, can be extracted from the literature and tales of love in the medieval period. Here’s the deal. Andreas Capellanus describes the optic physiology of the first moments. In short, he sees her. Perhaps she is walking in a garden. The vision of her, which is made up of light rays, enters into his eyeball (hence the blind cannot fall in love). Through a rather circuitous anatomical miracle, the love-ray makes its way down around his esophagus and sticks in his heart. Now he’s love-struck. She doesn’t know about him at all. She is of high status and “daungerous,” which means not that she knows Tai Kwon Do but rather that she is standoffish. He is abject.

After haunting himself with visions of her limbs (by the way, she’s long gone now), he swoons a lot and follows various of Andreas’ rules (“you can’t eat, you can’t sleep; there’s no doubt you’re in deep”). Eventually all this love has to come out somehow, and remarkably it tends to emerge in well-crafted stanzas with rhyme patterns mentioned above and a zippy little meter. Secretly, the lover writes poems to the lady called “complaints” (“planh” in Provençal) because they are largely constructed of laments about his own suffering. These may be delivered to her by an intermediary. But she remains scornful while he or his friend continues heaving poems in her window tied to rocks.

Before actually getting a poem in the teeth, she, through some quirky event, will come to know who has been sending the poems. Eventually she will smile, which means she has accepted him as her “drut” (“dread” — meaning not “oh, no, there he is again” but rather in the sense of awe: “revered one”). Next comes the performance of tests. The lover gets a token, perhaps a glove or a girdle (not the 18-hour kind — more a scarf or sash). And the woman gets carte blanche — jousting, journeys, deeds, anything she wants. “Sir Eminem has insulted me. Kill him.” He has to. “Bring home some pork chops. Those last ones were awful.” He has to go slay a wild boar. “Fetch me the molars of the Sultan of Baghdad.” He’s got to climb the widest sea and swim the highest mountain and, though he has nothing against them per se, he’s got to hack his way through the Sultan’s guards and face the old boy, saying, “Render hither thine molars, payan swine!” “Nay, that likest me not nor will I nother!” Then he has to decapitate the Sultan, wrench out the back teeth, and get back home (probably switching clothes with a palmer at some point), only to find out that now she wants some Baskin Robbins pistachio swirl. And this goes on endlessly.

Something Fishy:

Supposedly the finer points of courtly love were so complex that Eleanor’s daughter, Marie of Champagne, commissioned her chaplain, Andreas, to write a rulebook. Another religious man, Chretien de Troyes (fl. 1160-1172) was ordered to write “Lancelot,” in which the knight’s hesitation at getting into a cart is crucial. Andreas supplies a Latin prose work, De Arte Honeste Amandi (The Art of Courtly Love, as the title is usually loosely translated), which subsequently has been taken as a textbook on courtly love.

But Andreas is a churchman. Check out some of the chapters in the Table of Contents! And what’s your honest reaction to reading some of this. A textbook on illicit love? 31 rules? Why 31?

Andreas also provides legal cases! Supposedly, the history of love included Courts of Love ruled by the ladies. There’s no historical evidence that this ever took place, and it seems pretty unlikely, but Andreas’ material has been referred to so often that it has come to seem true.

Here’s one case: a woman’s husband has died. Can she accept her servant as her lover? The decision: no, she must marry within her rank. This is not to say that a widow may not marry a lover, but then he would be her husband, not her lover.

Another case: a knight is serving his lady by defending her name. It’s getting embarrassing and she wants it stopped. There is much debate about this case. The decision: no, the woman is wrong; she cannot forbid him from loving her.

A final case: two little kids were playing in their medieval sandbox and noticed all the fine ladies and gentlemen engaged in the new love fad about them. They imitatively also agreed to a contract between them: that they would share a kiss each day. They years have passed and this guy keeps showing up at the door every morning for the kiss. The woman wants to be released from this juvenile contract. Does she have a case? The decision: granted, because the rules specifically state that one cannot be about the business of love until one is around the age of thirteen. Therefore all those kisses given since that age must be returned. (Huh?)

So is this all a joke? Andreas also offers a retraction — an about-face at the end. And he mentions a “duplicem sententiam” (a double lesson). Finally all seems sinful and love a heresy.

Feminist Perspective:

Does Courtly Love heighten the status of women? Yes, compared to their roles merely as “cup-bearers” and “peace-weavers” — that is, in Beowulf for example, servants and political pawn in marriage.

Marxist Perspective:

The “love story” has been one of the most pervasive and effective of all ideological apparatuses: one of the most effective smokescreens available in the politics of cultural production. One need only think of the historical popularity of crime stories purveyed as “love stories”: from the Trojan War — that paradigmatic “linkage” of love and genocide — to Bonnie and Clyde, from the subcultural Sid and Nancy to the hyperreal Ron and Nancy, we see the degree to which the concept of love is used as a “humanizing” factor, a way of appropriating figures whom we have no other defensible reason to want to identify with. It is also a way of containing whatever political or social threat such figures may pose within the more palatable and manipulable (because simultaneously fetishized as universal and individual) motivations of love and sexual desire…. the “love story,” a narrative that frequently disguises itself (qua narrative) or is taken as “natural” as opposed to the contrivances of other generic forms. (Charnes 136-137).


Works Cited

The Art of Courtly Love. The Early Music Consort of London. London, Virgin Classics Ltd., 1996. D 216190.

Campbell, Joseph, with Bill Moyers. “Tales of Love and Marriage.” The Power of Myth. NY: Doubleday, 1988. 186-204.

Charnes, Linda. Notorious Identity: Materializing the Subject in Shakespeare. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995.

Dodd, William George. “The System of Courtly Love.” 1913. Rpt. in Chaucer Criticism, Vol. II. Ed. Richard J. Schoeck and Jerome Taylor. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1961. 1-15. Dodd treats the phenomenon as historical.

Donaldson, E. Talbot. “The Myth of Courtly Love.” Speaking of Chaucer. NY: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1970. Donaldson declares Andreas a clerical joke.

Lewis, C.S. The Allegory of Love. 1936. NY: Oxford University Press, 1958.

Troubadour and Trouvère Songs. Music of the Middle Ages, Vol. 1. Lyrichord Early Music Series. NY: Lyrichord Discs Inc., 1994. LEMS 8001.
_______________________________________________

*Article republished with permission from the author.

Apollo – God of Incels

Apollo commons

There are many characters from Greek mythology who displayed involuntary celibacy, but perhaps none more famous than Apollo, the god of rational thought.

Jungian psychologists view Greek gods and goddesses as archetypes – themes that appear not only in mythology but also psychologically and behaviourally in the lives of men and women. The Apollo archetype personifies the aspect of the personality that wants clear definitions, is drawn to master a skill, values order and harmony. The Apollo archetype as it appears in the behaviour of men (or women) favors thinking over feeling, distance over closeness, objective assessment over subjective intuition.

Apollo can be viewed a metaphorical ‘incel‘ figure. The following from psychiatrist Jean Shinoda-Bolen’s book Gods in Everyman describes this aspect of Apollo or the ‘Apollo man’ :

Apollo was the most handsome of gods, as well as responsible and dependable: the sun always came up, rose and set when it was supposed to. He emphasized virtue and had precepts to live by carved on his temple walls. Yet he was unsuccessful in love, rejected by Cassandra, Sybil, Daphne, and Marpessa. The women Apollo the god wanted to have, and was rejected by, were the kind of women who also may reject an Apollo man.

The woman who rejects a handsome, virtuous, dependable Apollo man usually does so because he lacks qualities that are essential for her, such as depth and intensity, or emotional closeness, or sexual spontaneity. Apollo men are rejected by women who want a deeper bond, with more intensity and emotional expressiveness, than he can provide.

The integrity in which an Apollo man may live out his precepts or live up to his agreements draw admiration and respect, rather than love or passion. Women who are aware of these priorities will not choose him to begin with, or, on discovering what is lacking, may reject him as a lover later. 1

She further tells:

Individuals who resemble Apollo have difficulties that are related to emotional distance, such as communication problems, and the inability to be intimate… Rapport with another person is hard for the Apollo man. He prefers to access (or judge) the situation or the person from a distance, not knowing that he must “get close up” – be vulnerable and empathic – in order to truly know someone else…. But if the woman wants a deeper, more personal relationship, then there are difficulties… she may become increasingly irrational or hysterical.1

When considering the idea of using Greek deities as descriptors, I’m reminded of a statement by C.G. Jung who wrote, “To serve a mania [a psych label] is detestable and undignified, but to serve a God is full of meaning.”

If we translate Jung’s statement into one that speaks to our present topic it would say this: To be a devotee of Apollo is full of meaning, but to be labelled an incel is detestable and undignified.

With so much negative and maligning discourse around the topic of incels, perhaps its time we looked at the life of an involuntary celibate as every bit worthy as any other life. If we use Apollo as a model, we might even call parts of that life divine.



References:

[1] Shinoda-Bolen, J., Gods in Everyman: A New Psychology of Men’s Lives and Loves p.130-160 (1989)

Guinevere and Lancelot- by William de Leftwich Dodge (1910)

Painting by artist William de Leftwich Dodge (1910) showing Guinevere looking into Narcissus’ Mirror, with Lancelot sniffing at her hand in recognition of her femdom. This image illustrates the taproot of feminism’s concern with maintaining or increasing the power of women, a process facilitated by men’s adherence to medieval chivalry and deference to women.

Guinevere – by William de Leftwich Dodge. [Flickr. Public Domain.]